HomeOpinion & AnalysisWhen First Lady beneficiaries are coached to express gratitude for donations

When First Lady beneficiaries are coached to express gratitude for donations

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By Cyprian Ndawana

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Your Excellency, you ought to have known that true beatitude comes not from earthly riches, but from the milk of human kindness. You should have intuited. All you needed to do was to heed the small soft voice. Sadly, you did not activate this sixth sense.

As I see it, it did not necessitate the study of sapient Greek philosophy literature for him to be prudent. It should have been elementary for you to discern the inevitable folly of honouring your darling wife, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, for her ostensible philanthropy.

As she strode to receive her award, words of Julius Caesar: “We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us,” came to mind. Indeed, arrant knavery was unfolding in the full glare of the citizenry. It was sound advice indeed, not to believe none of them, given their self-conceit.

Whatever amount of money she is splurging in her donations is not culminating in national beatitude. A state of felicity can never be attainable when the donations are a means to an end of flaunting affluence.

Yet, it is to her credit that she has been on the go. She was in perpetual motion,  traversing the country. She reached out to far-flung nooks and crannies. With the accompaniment of the public broadcaster newscrew, she marshalled her entourage here, there and everywhere.

Your Excellency, oftentimes your wife generated gatherings that swelled beyond restrictions of COVID-19 guidelines. Oblivious of the risk of spreading the coronavirus, she visited every place dishing out an assortment of basic foodstuffs and household effects. With beneficiaries coached to express heartfelt gratitude for the donations, the rehearsed commendations became a platitude. It portrays the country negatively that the First Lady makes a name for herself by issuance of basic foodstuffs.

Her endeavours strike me as a far cry from meritting a presidential award. With all due respect, it was an award for pretension. But, given that it is in the nature of hens to peck, probably, the award could have been as a result of yielding to unremitting pecking.

Your Excellency, it is my conviction that her donations do not stem from the milk of human kindness, but from the desire for recognition. It is not humane to mandate a parade of beneficiaries, as per her custom. It is disheartening that the elderly are also made to sing for the donations.

Her prerequisite for publicity renders her an alien to the rock from which bonafide humanitarians are hewn. It is a trait unique to her. Yet, God-sent humanitarians like the late Jairos Jiri went about their mission with no need whatsoever for making news headlines. As I see it, if she were indeed a benevolent godmother, manifestations of her beneficence could not have been all along bottled, only to pop out henceforth her ascendance to First Lady. Her salient objective has been to flaunt the vast worldly riches, now accessible to her.

Your Excellency, if truth be told, most of the handouts are transient and of little upliftment value on the livelihoods of the citizenry. Methinks once off handouts of groceries, mealie meal, sugar, cooking oil, salt, soap, and so forth are only for a short-term benefit to recipients.

If a cost-benefit analysis were to be done into her donations, results would indicate her as a principal beneficiary of her donations. She has been intentionally portraying herself, much to her contentment, as a significant woman, a caring “Mother of the Nation.”

She relishes the publicity and showcasing her opulence. Apparently,  oftentimes logistical costs of delivering the donations are higher than the food basket. Yet, her objective has been to instill to all and sundry, affirmation for her prime class status.

If Your Excellency are a true visionary, you could have spared yourself of the backlash that erupted henceforth your awarding your wife. You must have harkened back to the absurdity of your predecessor, the late former President Robert Mugabe, who unduly conferred a doctorate degree on his wife.

But you rendered yourself a disservice by whimpering that you were not party to the selection processes. Frankly, it is below the dignity of the Presidency to stoop to such flippancy. While you might not have been party to the selection process, you were privy to the final list.

All in all, you must have been perceptive. You owed it to yourself to be insightful. Actually, the honour, said to be for philanthropic work, was not meritable. It raises a plethora of questions around the operations and funding of her organisation.

While her donation sprees are in the public domain, little is known about her funding sources.

Last year, the public broadcaster ran a streak of news stories of individuals and companies handing donations to her at State House.

Your Excellency, it struck me as absolute odd that even when mealie meal was not available on the market, some millers nonetheless donated truckloads to her.

Given the culture of corruption and ingratiation, motives of making donations raise a stench.

Save for a few that includes a team of Swiss medical personnel, who donated some eqippment, her funding sources are by and large silhouetted from the public.

This undisclosed information is ultimately fodder for speculation and conspiracy theories.

However, there is an award meritting niche which the First Lady ought to occupy if she were to bring forth true beatitude. If she were to gather herself and deliver pertinent curtain lectures to her husband, the country would not need to wait for 2030 to be an upper middle class society.

Given that she is the Health and Child Care ministry ambassador, the First Lady could have held pillow talks with you as husband to influence you to buy ambulances than cars for your Political Actors Dialogue pet peeve colleagues. Imagine the impactful outcome!

When you came to power, you declared yourself a listening President, one who is soft as wool. Yet, you have shown callous indifference to the plight of citizenry as evidenced by the shootings that claimed lives and injured many on the fateful August 1, 2018 in Harare. Also, the democratic space has shrunk markedly with arrests galore of political rivals. Levels of intolerance have heightened to dire proportions. Owing to the unprecedented recalls of parliamentarians and councillors, Zimbabwe is now a cry the beloved country.

With the right to vote for the diaspora population ruled out, these are some of the national vexatious topics which the First Lady could influence consensus by toning down her husband. Methinks a stalemate in these issues is attributable to her gallivanting.

Your Excellency, it is known that the ruling Zanu PF party is fractious. Its recently held district co-ordinating committees elections exposed widening rifts. Hence, the party yearns for an emotionally available leader’s wife who can provide him with  rest, perspective and vitality.

It is time the First Lady opened a new page. As I see it, once she flips over, contrite hearts will henceforth prevail. Scripture has it that the unfading beauty of a wife is her gentle and quiet spirit. A gentle and quiet-spirited State House is a prerequisite for true beatitude.

  • Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach and motivational speaker. He can be contacted on muketiwa.mmsb@gmail.com

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